Barack Obama has no rival with sufficient enough credibility to be president. For now he is running against himself — or rather, against the expectation that his first election aroused and the promise of change that that campaign fueled. But he is losing that race. In a survey yesterday, Obama was ahead of Herman Cain by only five points. It’s irrelevant that no one knows who Herman Cain is. Put any Republican opponent in the blank space and the result would be similar.

What is happening? How do we resolve it? Faced with the difficulty of responding to these questions, White House strategists — trusting in the principle that the best defense is a good offense — have launched the president into a hasty electoral campaign to try to regain his sense of identity and that of his party. Obama has attempted an offensive to finally keep pace with the Republicans, reclaim the esteem of the left, and encourage disappointed followers to return to the ballot box in hopes of “Yes, we can… again.”

Last week in Cincinnati he declared himself “happy to fight for the middle class.” A few days later in front of the Congressional Black Caucus, he changed that definition to “warrior for the working class.” This week in California, before the intervention of one of Silicon Valley’s success stories, who asked him to please raise taxes, Obama restarted his battle to increase financial pressure on the rich. He thoughtlessly attacked Rick Perry, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell, several leading Republicans. He has brought up the danger of climate change, defended homosexual soldiers, and backed the legalization of undocumented workers.

In two weeks, Obama has hardly stayed a couple of days in the White House. He has visited six states, participated in many other fundraising dinners, and pronounced a dozen rallies. In some of them, luckily, he’s heard the phrase: “We love you, Obama.”

The president “is very confident in his team, in the direction we've laid out here,” said senior White House advisor, David Plouffe, on CNN.

Obama, trapped between the crisis and Barack

The current direction is obligatory given the president’s descent in popularity; hi rating barely surpasses 40 percent support in the polls and the administration, with little over a year left of his term in office, is moving closer to failure than to success. The responsibility for this is largely attributed to an economic crisis that is more serious than it appeared to be two years ago — maintaining an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. But another part of the responsibility must be attributed to Obama himself, who has been unable to define a clear model for his presidency. For citizens, he has remained distant, and for his administration, he seems confused.

“We buy the Republican trash about austerity without anyone defending the Democratic viewpoint,”* complained James Carville, director of Bill Clinton’s campaign and author of the famous phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Carville is one of the Democrats that has cried for help with the most energy, noting that Obama should be in a state of panic about his re-election and immediately say goodbye to most of his collaborators. Although he denied it, everyone understood that Carville was particularly referring to William Daley, chief of the president’s cabinet, who is chiefly responsible for propelling his legislative agenda.

Daley is considered the creator of the strategy that led to an agreement with Republicans, that, though it hasn’t worked, was the only way to govern in the reality that resulted from the 2010 legislative elections.

However, governing already seems a secondary task. Plouffe’s influence keeps imposing on Daley’s and everyday the president enters deeper into candidate mode. His last great legislative initiative, proposing a $450 billion plan to stimulate growth and combat unemployment, was yet again struck down by the conservative opposition, which rejected new public inversions and refused to finance it with an increased tax on the rich.

*Editor’s Note: This quote, accurately translated, could not be verified.